I recently researched the importance of touch in childhood development. I was surprised to find that many of the symptoms linked to a lack of touch are increasing in many countries. It’s especially happening in the United States.
Many things, from asthma and allergies to emotional and social problems, are linked to lack of touch. It has even been connected with the failure to thrive—or even death! Part of the problem is that we in the U.S. don’t touch a lot. There are also other factors at play when it comes to our kids. Many kids spend most of their childhood in daycare and school environments. In most cases workers aren’t allowed to touch them (to avoid abusive situations). Parents carry their kids less because they use car seats and strollers. Unless a child’s family is very loving and intimate, it’s unlikely they’ll be receiving enough touch.
Our kids face other hurdles besides the lack of touch. Advertisers find kids very valuable as a market, but our society tells them they aren’t really valuable. We consider them so cheap, in fact, that they can be killed before birth—without legal consequences. Studies show that children of divorced parents almost never fare as well as children in intact families. But many adults make relationship decisions without considering whether their choices are good for their children. Educators decide on new standards that aren’t about what’s good for children. Instead they focus on raising test scores. Programs that aren’t linked to standardized tests—like art, music, library services, and physical education—are often dropped. This is despite evidence that they’re helpful to children’s development.
In the Old Testament, God despised societies who practiced child sacrifice. It was a common and horrible practice. It was done to try and gain favor of a false god. I think it’s reasonable to ask whether our society today is now doing the same thing. Are we sacrificing our children’s health, wellbeing, and even their very lives to ensure our fulfillment and success? Life isn’t perfect. We often do have to make less than ideal decisions. But I think it’s worth critically examining your personal decisions. Ask yourself, “Am I sacrificing my child for convenience’s sake?”